I remember having a conversation with a friend of mine, a fellow book lover, some five years ago, wherein we were discussing the changes in the publishing industry with the advent of eBooks and the ease of their availability on a variety of devices such as the Kindle, iPad, Tab, and even phones. This is how the conversation went:
“Looks like the age of Gutenberg and his printing press is finally at an end, eh? The era of Parchment replaced by paper has finally given way to digital books. Time to give up the dream of building a massive library in the house?”
“No. Never. Print will never die, my friend. Mark my words. These eBooks will grow and may even gain a major share of the market, but physical books will never die”.
“Want to bet on it? Let’s see if your words hold true five years down the line”.
We shook on it and the wager was set.
Five years passed in a jiffy, and I have finally won the bet. He was a bit surprised at having lost, and even more surprised when I told him that the sale of physical books is on the rise once again, but to those who truly understand books and have a special place in their hearts and homes for these hallowed tomes, the answer was always going to be the same. Physical books would never die out.
Here’s why I’ve stood by this notion all this time (and have been proven correct, especially with the spike in the sale of physical books) :
Books are Beautiful
Printed books come in many formats such as hardcover, paperback, graphic novels, magazines and more. The cover jacket of these books is an excellent marketing tool. And though it is said that you should never judge a book by its cover, a beautifully crafted cover can be the difference between a potential reader picking up the book and buying it or passing it over.
The delightful typesetting, the hard leather cover, or the glistening, shimmering cover of a paperback, all of them call to the reader, drawing them to their pristine spines, making them want to caress and cuddle these books.
Unlike them, eBooks can only be read on the flat, bright screen of an eReader, and after spending hours at work in front of a computer screen, reading on a similar screen just does not offer the same comfort or peace of mind like a printed book does.
Books are Tangible
One of the most important factors which has seen the stagnation and fall in eBook sales compared to printed books is that the price difference between the two is only nominal, but in buying a printed book, the reader gets to feel the product. There is something exquisite in cuddling with a book and a hot cup of coffee on a dark and stormy night, with cold air permeating the air and soft moonlight painting the world in an ethereal light.
P.S. – The absolutely crazy discounts being offered on ecommerce websites right now have also helped boost sales of physical books.
Books can be Collected
A true connoisseur will always prefer collecting a printed copy of a book instead of an eBook. There are numerous readers out there who after having read the eBook have yet invested their money in buying a physical copy of the book to add to their collection. There is something hallowed, something almost holy, about holding a book aloft and reading the words so carefully constructed by the writer, giving life to heroes and villains through words on a page and taking you on an adventure.
Plus physical books make for the best of gifts as well!
Books have Flesh Memories
Reading an old favourite book will take you on a trip down memory lane. The scribbling done in the margin of a book or a piece of paper hidden in the eaves of a book suddenly falling out can trigger nostalgia and take you back to the moment when you had drawn or written in the book, or inserted that paper within it. It is a link to the past, a drink from the cup of melancholy, and it can transport you to a time long ago, in a place far away.
All of these reasons, whether sentimentally driven, or financially driven, continue to make sure that physical books will continue to see an upsurge in their readership.
May Gutenberg’s legacy continue to extend through the annals of history, far into the yet to be written pages of the future.
Long live physical books.